Friday, June 30

Tour de Chaos

Three of the top five finishers from last year's Tour de France were suspended today from this year's race under a cloud of doping suspicions and accusations. The scandal comes just one day before the the world's richest and most prestigious bicycle race was to begin its three-week, 2,270-mile, 23-day run.

This year's race, the first since seven-time winner Lance Armstrong retired, will be run without front-runners Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla. At least 55 other riders, a host of team officials, and one whole team have also been sidelined, in large part because of police raids in Spain that found banned performance-enhancing drugs and other items and were said to have implicated dozens of top riders and coaches. The situation obviously throws the Tour into chaos--casting a pall over the entire sport.

Interestingly, the last Tour to start without Lance Armstrong was the 1998 race, which nearly imploded during a doping scandal eerily similar to the current crisis. Armstrong returned to competition in 1999 after cancer treatment and won seven straight Tours, and then retired after winning the race in 2005, leaving the field wide open.

Ullrich won the 1997 Tour de France and was a five-time runner-up. With Armstrong's retirement, the German rider was considered one of the favorites for this year's race. Now, Americans George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Dave Zabriskie, and Levi Leipheimer may well leap to the top of the list of contenders.

Wednesday, June 28

Hot Jumps

It is hard to believe that June is nearly gone. Hard to believe, that is, until you try to run in the afternoon. I ran a quick 2 miles yesterday afternoon after I got home from work. It was brutal. The heat! It just sapped my strenghth and energy. My legs felt like lead. But then this morning, I ran again--about 5K. The cool morning air was invigorating. And I felt great--despite short sleep. Just goes to show: you really have to plan summer run times carefully in order to get in optimal workouts.

I read an interesting article in Runner's World about jump rope workouts and so I dragged out my old gym-rat rope last night. Man, oh man! I'd forgotten what a great aerobic workout that can be. I think I am going to try to work in regular jump intervals into my training schedule.

Thursday, June 22


My dear friend and running buddy, Dave Minnigan, is always a mine of wisdom. That's us in the photo--just after the RC-Moon Pie 10-Miler. See, doesn't he look wise? A couple of weeks ago he reminded me of the old Yogi Berra wisecrack that "Endurance is eighty percent half mental." It has proven to be a great motivation for me as I try to whip my sorry carcass back into shape. It got me across the finish line in Bell Buckle. Last night, it got me through three miles on the hotel treadmill. And this morning it pushed me out the door to hit the streets of Hotlanta for three more. Let me be the first to confess, I did not really want to run at all yesterday or today--and I wasn't real sure I could indeed drag myself across the finish line even with the promise of Moon Pies as a reward. But, ultimately I did get out there and give it my best shot--knowing that my reticence was really only twenty percent half mental.

Boy, oh boy, am I glad I got that cleared up.

Amazingly, while I out this morning in the Olympic Centennial Park, I met up with three runners who asserted that they regularly read my blogs. They were as hot and sweaty as I was at the time--and they blamed me for it! What a great mess to have gotten good folks into!

It reminds me of another great Yogi-ism: "You gotta be careful about motivation; it makes you do the darndest things."

Wednesday, June 21

On the Road

I am currently on the road--attending a couple of conventions. As a result my training has to be squeezed around meeitngs and strange schedules. Nevertheless, I find that when I am on the road I am actually able to get in more and better workouts than I sometimes can at home. There are the great workout rooms at the hotels. There is the ability to slip away at strange times to get in a run.

After the RC-Moon Pie race, I thought I would be sore. That's me in the photo, dragging myself across the finish line. In fact though, the raceleft me feeling great--and ready for more. So, I got in a nice three-mile treadmill run on Sunday after church. Then, I was able to do two good three-mile runs on Monday--one in the morning and one in the evening. In addition, I was able to ride a bike about ten miles and do a complete weight room workout. Then yesterday, I took off down Atlanta's famed Peachtree Street for a nice easy three-miler.

Thursday, June 15

RC-Moon Pie

The 12th annual RC-Moon Pie Festival is this weekend in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Besides all the ingenious crafts, the great food, the fun music, and various countrified-shenanigans, every year the Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce hosts a hot and hilly 10-mile run.

Alas, I have not been able to prepare a great deal for this rather grueling event. I did get in a good 8-mile training run on Monday. But, I was traveling out of town all day Tuesday and had meetings all day Wednesday. So, I just slipped in a quick 3-miler this morning and decided to leave it at that. That means I will most assuredly have to run a Galloway strategy--probably with a 4-1-4 ratio. Even that will likely test my physical limits.

Despite that, I have to say that I am really looking forward to the experience. There is just about no other run that I enjoy more than this one. And besides, Karen and I get to spend the weekend in the delightful Mingle House B&B, eat at the amazing Bell Buckle Cafe, and enjoy the town's impeccable Southern hospitality.

Saturday, June 10

Cool Country 5-Miler

This morning, the Cool Country Five-Miler was anything but cool! Though the start was at 7:30, it was already quite warm. And by the finish (at least by the time I arrived at the finish) it was nearly 90 degrees. I had intended this race as a warm up for next weekend's tough RC Cola-Moon Pie Ten-Miler. Warm up, I did. In fact, by mile three, I was really overheating and laboring.

I think what I need to do is to revert back to Galloway intervals when I've got hills or heat to contend with (and I will have both next weekend).

The good news is that even though I struggled to get through this one--I did it. And just having done it bolsters my confidence and my resolve for what lies ahead.

Thursday, June 8

Getting Going Again

According to a study recently released in Britain, nearly sixty percent of all those who complete a first marathon never compete in an endurance event again. Nearly forty percent stop running altogether. The number rises to just over seventy percent upon completion of a second marathon.

When I first read these statistics, I was a little taken aback. But, now that I've had a chance to think about them a bit, I think I understand.

After accomplishing a marathon goal, it is hard to get back to the kind of training and sacrifice necessary to do it again. And at the same time, after doing something as monumental as a marathon, almost anything and everything else almost seems unworthy of serious attention. Such thinking is of course terribly debilitating and paralyzingly deceptive.

Runners have long noted the effects of the "post-marathon blues." But, there is an aspect of marathon recovery that makes getting back into any kind of serious training regimen terribly difficult even after the "blues" have long disappeared.

It is just hard to get going again. It is difficult to recast the mind, will, and emotions for another goal, another season, another race. That must be why so many people, even after all the grueling effort that goes into preparing for and then actually doing a marathon, just quit.

This week, I have run every morning and almost every night. And it has been a struggle every time to drag my sorry self out there. I have had a hard time adjusting to a summertime schedule. I have had a hard time adjusting to summertime temperatures. But most of all, I have had a hard time adjusting to a summertime mindset. So, it has been a matter of sheer will and determination to pound the pavement.

I'm doing about six miles a day. Physically, that is not a challenge at all--especially given how slow and easy I am taking it. But, the mental part is a huge challenge.

In less than two weeks I will be participating in one of the most difficult--and yet one of the most enjoyable--races of the year: the Moon Pie-RC Coal 10-Miler. I think that as a warm-up I may try to do the Cool Country 5-Miler this Saturday. What I am hoping is that these two very tangible and imminent goals will help me overcome whatever it is that is making my mental--and thus ultimately, my physical--return to a serious training regimen so terribly difficult.

Saturday, June 3

Back in the Saddle

Jet lag is never easy to get over--but the older I get the harder it is. Yesterday, I got out nice and early while it was still cool and ran a very pleasant three miles. This morning, I got out a little later but still was able to run three and walk three. If I weren't so tired (from the jet lag, I think) I would be feeling pretty good right now. Regardless, it sure is nice to be back home and in the saddle.